NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — In the animal world black and white pandas could be considered tops, at least price-wise. The Guinness Book of World Records lists them as the most expensive animal to keep in captivity.
Now, there’s a controversial push to bring a couple of the rare bears to New York City, with Central Park’s Zoo being eyed as a possible home.READ MORE: 2 Islanders Games Postponed Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
“We love it. Can’t get enough. It’s so exciting,” one woman said.
As CBS2’s Emily Smith reported, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) is working to get two black and white pandas to New York.
The animals can only be leased from China, and officials overseas require a note from either the governor or mayor showing interest. It’s something that Mayor Bill de Blasio is not willing to do.
Congresswoman Maloney spoke about it on 970 AM.
“The mayor was not interested. I guess he doesn’t like horses and he doesn’t like pandas. So I approached the governor and he said yes,” Maloney said.
In a statement to CBS2 a mayoral spokesperson said the city had ‘more pressing concerns.’
“There are more pressing concerns for New York City at the moment,” the statement read.
The Central Park Zoo declined to comment, but according to the mayor’s office neither the Central Park Zoo or the Bronx Zoo wants the black and white pandas for a number of reasons.READ MORE: Stolen French Bulldog Found Safe On Long Island, Burglary Investigation Continues
Pandas require a lot of resources, they eat about 84-lbs of bamboo a day, and that’s on top of an estimated million dollars per panda per year to lease them from China.
There is a 12-lbs red panda at Turtle Back Wildlife in West Orange, where Animal Keeper Erika Muller said you won’t see the much larger black and white species there.
“They’re very hard to get in zoos. There are very few in the U.S. that have them. San Diego I think, Atlanta,” Muller said.
Rep. Maloney’s spokespeople said bringing black and white pandas to New York City would be a win, calling the animals ambassadors for endangered species.
They said the lease payments will be used by China to advance conservation and care of pandas back home.
The city doesn’t necessarily need Mayor de Blasio’s approval now that Governor Cuomo said ‘Okay.’ Congresswoman Maloney’s office said it would be paid for by private funding, but could take several years to become reality.
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